That is the question. At least for today.
Is having our children obey really an important thing to insist on as a parent? Should are kids always obey us even if they don’t want to say or do something?
Children are innately social. They will naturally want to follow our lead and even obey. Of course there is a time when autonomy comes into play and our children want to make their own choices and do things without our help. Although they will feel the strong need for autonomy, I don’t think children lose their sense of following our lead. I think that only gets lost when trust and attachment are diminished.
When you punish, coerce and otherwise manipulate children you slowly lose their trust. They can’t trust that if they tell you the truth you won’t be mad or punish. They can’t trust that you won’t shame or coerce them if they tell you “no” after being asked to do something.
Many books out there will use the example of an emotional bank account when explaining how trust works with others. You can withdraw, withdraw, withdraw but eventually you’ll have nothing left. You really need to deposit as much trust as often as possible so when you are having a bad day or in a difficult situation, your withdrawal won’t effect the overall trust your child has in you.
It’s so hard to read about parents wanting their children to obey at all costs. Respecting our children as individuals who have needs and wants that may not parallel our own should be accepted and worked with. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of the parents getting creative in order to get what they want. Assuming of course that what they want isn’t simply to have the child obey.
What if a parent wants toys picked up and a tidy room? They may ask the children for help cleaning up but if they are replied with a “no”, perhaps the parents should simply do it themselves without further commentary. When children are not coerced and routinely receive help when they ask, they will likely take part in the requested task. Of course one must develop mutual trust for their kids to feel safe in complying on their own accord. To force a child to help will not foster enjoyment in helping others, but instead creates resentment and no doubt hinder future requests for help.
If it’s too much work for the parents to tidy the room all the time, perhaps there are too many toys. That’s not to say that toys should be taken away as punishment or under the disguise of a psuedo choice the children have made in not choosing to tidy up their toys the way the parents wish.
Kid’s participation should not be imposed on them, rather they should be taking part out of their own interest and desire. It’s important that our children be able to make choices. It’s critical that they learn to be honest about their feelings, needs and wants as well as to understand their own feelings, needs and wants. We don’t want to raise kids who are merely followers. We want them to be able to say “no” even when it’s not easy.